So, there I was, sniping away about how those Hollywood types don't care about you and I. This group of narcissistic greedheads will spout off about just how amazing their intents are, all while banking their kerjillion dollars and keeping the one percent squarely at the top of the economic food chain. It is precisely the reason why fingers can be pointed at those champions of the working man like Bruce Springsteen when he has an estimated net worth somewhere north of two hundred million dollars. I would love to give the Boss the benefit of the doubt and imagine that he gives away one hundred ninety-nine of those millions away every year to charitable causes and does nothing but good deeds for those who really need it.
But that's not how this game works. It is not set up to turn money away. It is set up to generate more and more money until you end up with one percent of the population holding twenty percent of the wealth. If the American Dream was once all about owning your own home and take care of your family through hard work and perseverance, it is now about striving to stay away from that swirling vortex of debt that exists as a result of those who have reached too high for that illusory brass ring. I suppose this shouldn't come as a surprise to a nation that is living with a tab of nineteen trillion dollars, at last count. If you can't afford that better life, borrow it.
Which is why what John Oliver, host of HBO's "Last Week Tonight," brought a little light to this dark tunnel on his show last week. In his report, he pointed out that American households collectively own over twelve trillion dollars in debt, four hundred thirty-six billion dollars of which is ninety or more days past overdue. These debts have spawned a billion-dollar industry in debt buying or organizations that purchase the right to collect debts from the original creditors. The largest debt buying corporation is a group called Encore Capital who claim that one in five consumers either owes them money now or has in the past. One in five. Mister Oliver and his production company took it on themselves to buy up $14,922,261.76 of the medical debt owed by some nine thousand people, and paid it off. John Oliver, TV funnyman, just put a little bit back in to the ninety-nine percent. Mister Oliver did this from his lofty perch of a two million dollar a year salary, from a division of Time Warner whose profits were nearly five hundred million dollars last year. Profits. That's the money they made after their employees, like John Oliver, were paid. This little flurry of redistribution won't ultimately impact the Forbes 500 in the slightest, but it will undoubtedly increase viewership for his show, which will drive up the salaries for the folks around him and maybe then they can afford to have Bruce Springsteen come on and sing songs about the working man.
Does this sound bitter? Maybe that's the sound of the rest of us waiting for our turn on the game show. Hillary and Donald will be duking it out from the top of the heap. Bernie Sanders is hanging somewhere just below the millionaire's club. That gives me something to think about.